It comes down to a simple formula: Comfort + Momentum = Sale.
Sales begins with relationship. We want to agree with people we like. We want to be around them. We want to buy what they are selling. We buy what we are comfortable with.
But we are also distracted. We have too much stimulus. Too many things vie for our attention. So we also get lazy out of necessity. And we buy what is in front of us – that which has the momentum at the moment when we are prepared to ink the deal.
So if you are selling or think you might someday, build relationships early and often. Maintain them. Cultivate them. Deepen them. And when a sale is anywhere in sight, even off in the far distance, keep at it. Stay present. Don’t be afraid to push.
After all: Comfort + Momentum = Sale.
I love it when salespeople tell me they don’t want to look salesy. Heaven forbid they appear to be what they are.
But we are all in sales. We sell ideas. We sell ourselves. And really what I think people want to avoid is appearing pushy or selfish or greedy.
Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid those things we also avoid help and support and success.
There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want. In fact, you know lots of people who are eager to help you get what you want, if only they can find out what it is that you do really want.
So ask. Get direct. Be salesy.
And start with your closest contacts – the clients who love you, the colleagues who think you are great, the friends who care so much they would help you move. These people really truly want to be helpful. (If you don’t believe me, try this litmus test – would you be happy to help them? If yes, they probably feel the same toward you.)
Tell them what you want.
- I want to meet new people.
- I want to make contacts in a new company or industry.
- I want an introduction to someone just like you.
Go ahead and ask. The people closest to you will be only too happy to help.
I hear it all the time.
“They aren’t interested.”
“They don’t think I can do the job.”
“They clearly have chosen someone else.”
Whether you are selling a product or service to a customer or an idea to your company’s senior executives the no reply isn’t about you. When we send an email, offer a proposal, suggest an idea, whenever we reach out we are putting not only our ideas but our egos on the line. We are saying, “Please accept me. Like me. Give me some sign that I am worthy.”
The problem is that no matter how worthy your idea or product may be, you are one of about 1,000 people/emails/ideas/stimulus that your customer is sifting through every day.
And the easiest response to all that stimulus is to kick the can. Press delete. Assume it will go away. Take care of something else that is more demanding.
If you want to be in the running, you often need to be demanding. If they haven’t responded it’s not because they aren’t interested. In all likelihood they are just busy.
So if you want to stand out, don’t disappear. Don’t assume they aren’t interested. Email again. Call again. Ask again. Pop your name back in their inbox. Twice. Three times. In fact, as many times as it takes.
Your ego wants you to avoid the rejection and keep quiet. But your success is calling. And it requires you to persist and remember, when they don’t reply, it’s not about you.
Language matters. You want to influence someone? It could be to offer feedback or an opinion or make a proposal of some kind. But you really want the other person to listen. So you say,
- Would you like to hear . . .
- Are you interested in . . .
- May I offer you . . .
Each of these questions are easy to refuse. They ask the listener to evaluate you and your ability to contribute, to determine if your opinion or idea is worth their time. Even if they say yes, your question has already given them a mindset of judging you and questioning your value.
If on the other hand you use different language . . .
Ask someone if they are open and you are asking them to judge themselves. Are they open-minded (a desirable trait) or closed-minded? No one wants to be closed-minded. So they answer yes. And as you offer your idea, opinion, or feedback, they will listen with the mindset of trying to live up to that desirable trait of being open-minded.
I walked out of a breakfast meeting and down 50th street in mid-town Manhattan the other day. I’m used to the sights and sounds of the city. But I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me this day.
A homeless individual is nothing unusual. But THIS individual was uncommon in a remarkable way.
All he did was smile and say, “Good morning,” to each person who passed him.
This may sound strange, but he had one of the most brilliant smiles I’ve ever seen. And his enthusiasm as he wished each passerby a good morning was absolutely infectious. I’d be richer than Bill Gates if I could bottle and sell this homeless man’s energy and charisma.
Of course, I can’t sell that. But I can choose to smile. I can smile more often and more broadly. I can choose to be more enthusiastic.
We can all choose these things. Every day we are selling ourselves. We sell ourselves as coworkers and friends and family members. We sell ourselves as the kind of person others want to work with and be around.
This man sitting on the sidewalk sold me on his smile. From that I would have bought anything he was selling. In this case he had no physical product. So I gave him a dollar and told him he had an amazing smile. He seemed very appreciative, but I knew as I walked away that I had gotten the better end of the deal. One dollar was a small price to pay for the newly placed smile I had on my own face.
Your pipeline is the list of people who you are in regular contact with who can help you achieve your biggest goals.
If you are selling, that pipeline is potential customers. If not, then your pipeline is your network. It’s the people who can influence your job or help you make the jump to the next level in your career.
The first challenge here is one of quantity, pure and simple. If you have enough people in your pipeline, then whenever you need it, at least a few of them should be ready to act – to buy from you or to help you move to a new role.
If you have a ton of people in your pipeline and you are still struggling, it’s time to confront the second challenge – quality. Look at each person on that list. Can they really help you achieve your biggest goals? Or is it just easier to keep in touch with them than it is to go out and find a new person to add to your pipeline?
I don’t care if you are a salesperson. Don’t sell.
When you sell, by its very nature you are trying to manipulate. You are attempting to convince someone to make a decision that favors you (even if it also favors them). You are perceived as pushy and self-serving.
Even worse, it makes people not want to buy.
So don’t sell. Instead, help!
Figure out how to help people. Help them with advice (and not advice to buy your product). Help them with information (even information that might lead them not to buy). Help them with introductions.
Help them any way you can.
The more you help, the more they’ll like you. The more they’ll trust you. The more they’ll want to buy your product.
And you will spend your life helping rather than selling.